Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hi Italy! "Islamic State Entrenches in Sirte, Libya"

Sometimes I kinda miss old Muammar.
Sirte was his hometown and is also the place the Islamic State guys chopped off the heads of the 21 Coptic Christians last February.

From the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 2015:

City across the Mediterranean from Europe is first outside Syria or Iraq to come under the group’s control 
Even as foreign powers step up pressure against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the militant group has expanded in Libya and established a new base close to Europe where it can generate oil revenue and plot terror attacks.

Since announcing its presence in February in Sirte, the city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast has become the first that the militant group governs outside of Syria and Iraq. Its presence there has grown over the past year from 200 eager fighters to a roughly 5,000-strong contingent which includes administrators and financiers, according to estimates by Libyan intelligence officials, residents and activists in the area.

The group has exploited the deep divisions in Libya, which has two rival governments, to create this new stronghold of violent religious extremism just across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy. Along the way, they scored a string of victories—defeating one of the strongest fighting forces in the country and swiftly crushing a local popular revolt.

Libya’s neighbors have become increasingly alarmed.

Tunisia closed its border with Libya for 15 days on Wednesday, the day after Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital Tunis that killed 12 presidential guards.
Tunisia is also building a security wall along a third of that border to stem the flow of extremists between the countries. Two previous attacks in Tunisia this year that killed dozens of tourists were carried out by gunmen the government said were trained by Islamic State in Libya, which has recruited hundreds of Tunisians to its ranks.

This burgeoning operation in Libya shows how Islamic State is able to grow and adapt even as it is targeted by Russian, French and U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria as well as Kurdish and Iraqi ground assaults in Iraq.

In Libya, Islamic State has fended off challenges from government-aligned militias, crushed an uprising in Sirte and called for recruits who have the technical know-how to put the nearby oil facilities into operation.

Libyan officials said they are worried that it is only a matter of time before Islamic State attempts to take over more oil fields and refineries near Sirte to boost its revenue—money that could fund attacks in the Middle East and Europe.

Sirte is a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries farther east on the same coast and Islamic State has targeted those installations over the last year.

“They have made their intentions clear,” said Ismail Shoukry, head of military intelligence for the region that includes Sirte. “They want to take their fight to Rome.”...MORE
The Islamic State has posted some handy maps with annotations:

Questo utente mostra la distanza tra Sirte e Roma: "The distance between Sirte and Rome is 1250 km, like the distance between Jeddah and Dammam. In other words, a Scud missile can reach Rome. The distance to the edge of Italy [its southern border] totals 450 km.”
An image posted by an Islamic militant on Twitter with this description: “The distance between Sirte and Rome is 1250 km, like the distance between Jeddah and Dammam. In other words, a Scud missile can reach Rome. The distance to the edge of Italy [its southern border] totals 450 km.”
Last December Pope Francis fired the head of the Swiss Guard for being "too strict".


July 2914
Heads Up For The Swiss Guards: ISIS Says They're Coming to Rome
al-Baghdadi may find the real Swiss Guards a bit more challenging than the guys pictured in the Vatican's World Cup tweet.

From HuffPo UK:

ISIS Head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Warns 'We Will Conquer Rome' 

Terror group ISIS will march on Rome in its quest to establish an Islamic state from the Middle East across Europe, its self-proclaimed 'caliph' has announced.

In an audio recording Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to rally to his pan-Islamic, which ISIS now simply calls 'Islamic State'.

"Those who can immigrate to the Islamic State should immigrate, as immigration to the house of Islam is a duty," he said....MORE
After talking to Muslims who advise not using the self-designation 'Islamic State', in future I'll probably be referring to IS as "The state formally known as ISIS".

Besides being fashionable, the court jester uniforms of the Swiss Guard are voluminous enough to hide a sandwich as well as the Guard's favorite close quarters equipment, the Heckler & Koch MP7A2 room broom.

Possibly related:
Pope Francis Endorses Use of Force Against ISIS
The Vatican's Argentina v. Switzerland World Cup Tweet
"Con men stopped entering Vatican bank with €3 trillion of fake bonds"